Liquor board sets pot store lottery

The Washington State Liquor Control Board on Wednesday approved how a lottery for issuing highly sought after marijuana retail licenses will occur this month with sales potentially starting in July.

With more than 2,000 retail applications to the board, a lottery is required to determine who will receive the 334 licenses allowed in the state. The city of Bellevue is allowed four pot stores, but more than 50 applications were received by the WSLCB.

The city has put in place an interim zoning ordinance, which conforms with the state and allows retail in 13 different zones. However, growing and processing may only occur within light industrial zones.

City councilmembers are also considering whether to continue toward approving a permanent ordinance or banning pot shops in Bellevue based on the opinion of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson that local governments have the right to do so.

The lottery will be a double-blind, independent process that the liquor control board will use to draft an ordered list of applicants to continue the licensing process. The board will post this list for each jurisdiction in the public records section of its website on May 2.

Being ranked as a successful applicant does not guarantee licensure, according to the WSLCB, which began pre-qualifying applicants in late February. It reports about 25 percent of applicants failed to return required documents related to criminal history, age, state residency and that they have real property in which to open their stores. Of those returned, 20-50 percent were incomplete and disqualified.

The liquor control board also has drafted rules that would prevent any such business from opening within 1,000 feet of a school, park, transit hub, child care center, playground, library, arcade center and collective gardens, which the city likewise adopted in its interim ordinance.

Licenses are expected to be issued by the first week of July and in 10-20 batches within major population areas.


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